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Plan and Preface to a Dictionary of English

Plan and Preface to a Dictionary of English by Samuel Johnson
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The published dictionary was a huge book: with pages nearly 1½ feet tall and 20 inches wide, it contained 42,773 words; it also sold for the huge price of £4/10s. ($400?). It would be years before “Johnson’s Dictionary”, as it came to be known, would ever turn a profit; authors’ royalities being unknown at that time, Johnson, once his contract to deliver the book was fulfilled, received no further monies connected to the book.

Johnson, once again a freelance writer, albeit now a famous one, faced a grim hand-to-mouth existence; however, in July 1762 the twenty-four year old King George III granted Johnson an annual pension of £300. While not making Johnson rich, it allowed him a modest yet comfortable independence for the remaining thirty years of his life.


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